Release of Largemouth Bass Under Differential Size Limits

Release of largemouth bass {Micropterus salmoides) by anglers licensed under 2 size limits were evaluated based on tag returns. Clarks Hill, Richard B. Russell, and Hartwell reservoirs, forming the boundary between Georgia and South Carolina, have different largemouth bass size restrictions on each side of the lake. Georgia imposes a 305-mm minimum length limit, whereas South Carolina imposes no size limit. Georgia anglers released a significantly greater (P ≤ 0.05) proportion of stock size (200-299 mm) bass than did South Carolina anglers. Georgia anglers also appeared to release a greater percentage of quality (300-379 mm) and preferred and larger (≥380 mm) size bass; however, no significanct differences (P ≤ 0.05) were detected. These results suggest that even a relatively small minimum length limit (305 mm) has a positive effect on angler release rates despite the popularity of voluntary catch and release. Management of fisheries resources should emphasize education of the angling public, angler satisfaction, better fishing, and adherence to fishing regulations.

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